Understanding the relationship between letters and their sounds is an important step in the process of learning spelling and reading. Between the Lions (PBS Kids) offers several free online phonics games for children at the pbskids.org site. While a variety of reading, writing and spelling games are offered, below is a detailed description of the specific games that parents and educators can utilize to help the little ones in their care make the phonetic connections between the letters of the alphabet, the sounds they make and the words they create together.
The game Dub Cubs focuses on phonological awareness. Here, children can have fun with music and rhyming! First, they choose a pair of rhyming words from a set of pictures. Next, they click on those words and other words which incorporate the same rhyming sounds to create a musical beat. This game also works on mouse control – as do other games in the Between the Lions PBS Kids series of online games.
Everyone’s favorite little lioness loves to sing The Alphabet Song – but some letters are missing. Children can help Leona finish her serenade by choosing the
correct letter from a list to fill in the missing parts to the song. This way, children test their letter knowledge as well as their letter recognition skills.
Letter knowledge, phonological awareness and vocabulary skills are all addressed in a fun crash and bang game called Blending Bowl. Children select two different football players – each representing a different sound. Afterward, they can sit back and enjoy the fun as the two players run down the field toward one another and eventually crash! The result is the word created when the two sounds collide. For example, on player might represent the sound made by the letter "F", while the other player represents the sound made by the letters "an". When they collide together, they create "fan." Players may then choose to create more words using one of the same sounds, or select an entirely new set of sounds.
In the PBS Kids game Chicken Stacker, players select a vowel sound from the list. They are then shown chickens with words, and instructed to
click on the chickens with the letters creating the same vowel sound in order to "stack" them. If the player makes a mistake, and accidentally clicks on a word which does not contain the selected sound, the game provides them with a gentle reminder of what the actual sound is that they are looking for. Then, the game play begins again. Once five chickens have been stacked (or five words with the correct vowel sound have been identified), the game reviews each of the five words – emphasizing the selected sound.
Fuzy Lion Ears
Children pretend they have fuzzy lion ears like Leona in this interactive game. A picture is shown, and the corresponding spelling of the word is given – with one letter missing. Below, are three letters to choose from. Only one of the letters is correct. Choose the correct letter to complete the word. Players are given the letter sounds when they click – all in an attempt to help the player choose the correct answer. If the player chooses the wrong letter, they are given a gentle reminder as to the sound they are looking for.
Players will work on phonological awareness as well as letter recognition with this silly matching game! Matches can be made using
uppercase letters, lowercase letters, beginning sounds and even rhymes. Rhyming words are given in the form of pictures. Clicking on the monkey’s coconuts will help the children find things that go together.
Making puzzles with this free online phonics game is more fun with Theo! First, players choose a letter they wish to work on. As an added bonus, the vowel letters are clearly marked. Children practice letter recognition and spatial skills my clicking and dragging puzzle pieces all on their own. When a mistake is made, the puzzle piece goes back to the pile. A nice feature for the littlest players is that the puzzle will jump to its intend position as long as the player drags it near by the correct location – no need to be exact.
For the game Sky Riding, letter recognition skills are practiced. First, players are shown different ways the same letter might be
written – uppercase, lowercase, different fonts and so on. Next, the player has the opportunity to find different versions of the same letter. This is done by dragging a floating balloon over the correct responses. Make a mistake? That’s okay, once again the game provides gentle reminders.
Finally, in the game Pounce, children work on decoding and sight word skills. A word is read out loud to the player. The player must then choose the word read among three selections given. Non-readers are able to participate, because each of the three choices is read to the child out loud just by sliding the cursor over the word.
Another nice feature of the PBS Kids game site is the ability to preview games before they are played. With these free online phonics games for children, your students or little ones will soon be on their way to spelling and reading. Between the Lions – PBS Kids also popular TV show – provides a wealth of information about phonemic awareness and really should be explored as a teaching tool.